People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles. This is the first thing I hear when I come back to the city. Blair picks me up from LAX and mutters this under her breath as she drives up the onramp. She says, People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles. Though that sentence shouldn't bother me, it stays in my mind for an uncomfortably long time. Nothing else seems to matter. Not the fact that I am eighteen and it's December and the ride on the plane had been rough and the couple from Santa Barbara, who were sitting across from me in first class, had gotten pretty drunk. Not the mud that had splattered on the legs of my jeans, which felt kind of cold and loose, earlier that day at an airport in New Hampshire. Not the stain on the arm of the wrinkled, damp shirt I wear, a shirt which looked fresh and clean this morning. Not the tear on the neck of my gray argyle vest, which seems vaguely more eastern than before, especially next to Blair's clean tight jeans and her pale-blue shirt. All of this seems irrelevant next to that one sentence. It seems easier to hear that people are afraid to merge than I am pretty sure Muriel is anorexic or the singer on the radio crying out about magnetic waves. Nothing else seems to matter to me but those ten words. Not the warm winds, which seem to propel the car down the empty asphalt freeway, or the faded smell of marijuana which still faintly permeates Blaire's car. All it comes down to is the fact that I am a boy coming home for a month and meeting someone whom I haven't seen for four months and people are afraid to merge.
Bret Easton Ellis
It doesn't matter what the manifest problem was in our childhood family. In a home where a child is emotionally deprived for one reason or another that child will take some personal emotional confusion into his or her adult life. We may spin our spiritual wheels in trying to make up for childhood's personal losses, looking for compensation in the wrong places and despairing that we can find it. But the significance of spiritual rebirth through Jesus Christ is that we can mature spiritually under His parenting and receive healing compensation for these childhood deprivations. Three emotions that often grow all out of proportion in the emotionally deprived child are fear, guilt and anger. The fear grows out of the child's awareness of the uncontrollable nature of her fearful environment, of overwhelming negative forces around her. Her guilt, her profound feelings of inadequacy, intensify when she is unable to put right what is wrong, either in the environment or in another person, no matter how hard she tries to be good. If only she could try harder or be better, she could correct what is wrong, she thinks. She may carry this guilt all her life, not knowing where it comes from, but just always feeling guilty. She often feels too sorry for something she has done that was really not all that serious. Her anger comes from her frustration, perceived deprivation and the resultant self-pity. She has picked up an anger habit and doesn't know how much trouble it is causing her. A fourth problem often follows in the wake of the big three: the need to control others and manipulate events in order to feel secure in her own world, to hold her world together- to make happen what she wants to happen. She thinks she has to run everything. She may enter adulthood with an illusion of power and a sense of authority to put other people right, though she has had little success with it. She thinks that all she has to do is try harder, be worthier and then she can change, perfect and save other people. But she is in the dark about what really needs changing.I thought I would drown in guilt and wanted to fix all the people that I had affected so negatively. But I learned that I had to focus on getting well and leave off trying to cure anyone around me. Many of those around - might indeed get better too, since we seldom see how much we are a key part of a negative relationship pattern. I have learned it is a true principle that I need to fix myself before I can begin to be truly helpful to anyone else. I used to think that if I were worthy enough and worked hard enough and exercised enough anxiety (which is not the same thing as faith), I could change anything. My power and my control are illusions. To survive emotionally, I have to turn my life over to the care of that tender Heavenly Father who was really in charge. It is my own spiritual superficiality that makes me sick and that only profound repentance, that real change of heart, would ultimately heal me. My Savior is much closer than I imagine and is willing to take over the direction of my life: I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me, ye can do nothing. (John 15:5). As old foundations crumble, we feel terribly vulnerable. Humility, prayer and flexibility are the keys to passing through this corridor of healthy change while we experiment with truer ways of dealing with life. Godly knowledge, lovingly imparted, begins deep healing, gives tools to live by and new ways to understand the gospel.
M. Catherine Thomas
BEFRIENDING THE BODY Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.In my practice I begin the process by helping my patients to first notice and then describe the feelings in their bodies—not emotions such as anger or anxiety or fear but the physical sensations beneath the emotions: pressure, heat, muscular tension, tingling, caving in, feeling hollow and so on. I also work on identifying the sensations associated with relaxation or pleasure. I help them become aware of their breath, their gestures and movements.All too often, however, drugs such as Abilify, Zyprexa and Seroquel, are prescribed instead of teaching people the skills to deal with such distressing physical reactions. Of course, medications only blunt sensations and do nothing to resolve them or transform them from toxic agents into allies. The mind needs to be reeducated to feel physical sensations and the body needs to be helped to tolerate and enjoy the comforts of touch. Individuals who lack emotional awareness are able, with practice, to connect their physical sensations to psychological events. Then they can slowly reconnect with themselves.
Bessel A. van der Kolk
The Thought of Death. It gives me a melancholy happiness to live in the midst of this confusion of streets, of necessities, of voices: how much enjoyment, impatience and desire, how much thirsty life and drunkenness of life comes to light here every moment! And yet it will soon be so still for all these shouting, lively, life- loving people! How everyone's shadow, his gloomy travelling companion stands behind him! It is always as in the last moment before the departure of an emigrant- ship: people have more than ever to say to one another, the hour presses, the ocean with its lonely silence waits impatiently behind all the noise-so greedy, so certain of its prey! And all, all, suppose that the past has been nothing, or a small matter, that the near future is everything: hence this haste, this crying, this self-deafening and self-overreaching! Everyone wants to be foremost in this future-and yet death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future! How strange that this sole thing that is certain and common to all, exercises almost no influence on men and that they are the furthest from regarding themselves as the brotherhood of death! It makes me happy to see that men do not want to think at all of the idea of death! I would fain do something to make the idea of life to us to be more than friends in the sense of that sublime possibility. And so we will believe in our even a hundred times more worthy of their attention.
Friedrich Nietzsche